The Cadillac Ciel (heaven) concept car is a long-awaited return to a BIG Cadillac, this time in the form of a four-door open model. We can’t say “convertible” because there is no top. Go on a long drive, get caught in a rain shower, and you’d get wet. A fabric top would be the right answer, but they haven’t tried to execute one. Fair enough, it’s a concept. And a nice one.
In contrast to the much-loved Cadillac Sixteen of 2003, the detailing on this car is coarse. Not crude, just not refined or delicate, not at all what Cadillac needs if real elegance and jewel-like trim and decor pieces are part to be of the mix. “I’m really happy with what the team has done,” says Ed Welburn, GM’s sixth-ever Vice President of Design, commenting on the Car at its initial presentation on the Monterey peninsula during the Pebble Beach-anchored August Car Week. The team in question is the Southern California design studio headed by Frank Saucedo, who has been in place for many years now.
Built in southern California by Metalcrafters, the Gaffolio family enterprise reknowned for its significant contributions to some of Chrysler’s best concepts in the past, the Ciel makes lavish use of carbon-fiber panels, and is a real car, driven under its own power not only for films, but to run it up the famous California Highway 1 south of Monterey.
The interior is impressive, with four individual seats, a lot of fancy electronics, a totally confusing conglomerated instrumentation system and masses of wood from a long-dead olive tree. It won’t make production — not that production is intended — but the effect is quite nice. One can question why passengers in a totally open car would want to focus their attention on TV screens in the front seat backs when the view of the sparkling world offered in the promotional film is so compelling.
Altogether, the car is attractive, exciting… and probably irrelevant, but at least it’s a true effort at doing something more than cost-cutting. They could, however, save costs on this design by eliminating the clumsy front fender side vents that make you think immediately of the current British penchant for ventilating engine compartments — even if the vents don’t actually connect to anything.
Good, not great, is our estimation of this design exercise. Maybe greatness is just around the corner, because at last GM seems to be really trying. – Robert Cumberford